The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Super League: Round 23
Take a bow Jackson Hastings. Shunned by the NRL, Hastings had one of the more spectacular Super League debuts in recent memory and it only lasted 20 minutes. Hastings scored a great solo try and set up two others with his smarts and sleight of hand. He was brought off as a precaution with a tight hamstring, but the Aussie showed his class quickly in his first AJ Bell Stadium appearance. Credit must go to the whole Salford team who bashed Leeds 38-22, even with only 12 men for most of the game after a red card. A ray of light for the Red Devils as the Middle Eights approach.
While Hastings’ debut was sensational, so was Craig Hall’s second coming at Hull KR. Hall returned to the Robins after the midweek implosion of Leigh Centurions. It was like he never left as he inspired Hull KR to a memorable 20-16 win over neighbours Hull FC. Nearly 18,000 were in attendance, a fantastic crowd for a derby game that effectively meant nothing in terms of the table. But for the Robins, who also gave Todd Carney and Ben Crooks their debuts, it was the result they wanted badly as they head into a relegation fight.
More good stuff coming out of Huddersfield as they notch win nine from their past 10 games. Simon Woolford keeps spurring his side on to greater heights and Jermaine McGillvary is back to his brilliant best, bagging another hat-trick a week after he grabbed three against Cas. Wakefield were out of the contest 30-10 at half-time and the Giants just can’t be stopped at the moment. Top four candidates? Don’t rule them out.
And we have to mention St Helens’ stellar young half Danny Richardson. The number seven showed nerves of steel to land a penalty goal from distance and edge his side over Warrington. Richardson is having a special season and surely has to be a shoo-in for the Young Player of the Year Award.
Dropped balls, a sin-binning, soft tackles, poor efforts in defence, throwing two intercepts – you name it and Widnes had it. At one point Adam Milner completely embarrassed the Vikings with a simple, strong run right up the middle. Widnes’ 16th loss in a row will have the likes of Toronto, Halifax, London and Toulouse licking their lips. They have the worst defence in the competition, conceding on average 28.39 points a game, and the second worst attack (they’ve scored three more points than Salford) as they average 16.82 points a game. Even new recruits Liam Finn and Harrison Hansen couldn’t give them a much-needed break.
What is going on at the Leeds Rhinos? They were simply awful on Friday as Salford steamrolled them. The decision to sack Brian McDermott and put Kevin Sinfield charge as coach/director of rugby/one-man savior has yet to work. Leeds have won only one game out of four with Sinfield running the show, and that victory was only against Widnes, a team in an even bigger hole. The Rhinos really need to fix the rot that has set in deep. At this rate they will be embarrassed by Warrington in the Challenge Cup semi-final and could be under real threat in the next seven weeks. Their leaders, their veterans – the Joel Moons, Ryan Halls, Adam Cuthbertsons and Richie Mylers – need to lift and lead from the front. Time is running out.